All The King's Men

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Harrison and MacMurfee Character Analysis

Two bigwigs in the state Democratic Party, MacMurfee attempts to run for the Senate in Louisiana, after serving as governor before Willie (and falling to Willie in the 1930 election). Harrison, who was also governor in the state before Willie, also retains a great deal of influence in the state legislature. Although neither MacMurfee or Harrison is seen in the novel, they exert a great deal of power over Willie at various moments, and Duffy, who remains in thrall to Harrison throughout his time as Lieutenant Governor, might be seen as a continuation of Harrison’s influence in the state.

Harrison and MacMurfee Quotes in All The King's Men

The All The King's Men quotes below are all either spoken by Harrison and MacMurfee or refer to Harrison and MacMurfee. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harvest Books edition of All The King's Men published in 2006.
Chapter 8 Quotes

What would it cost? Well, MacMurfee was thinking he might run for Senator . . . so that was it.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Harrison and MacMurfee
Page Number: 499
Explanation and Analysis:

The revelation of this quote causes Willie to activate his long-held plan of using his "dirt" on Judge Irwin. MacMurfee is in Irwin's pocket, and MacMurfee now thinks that, having learned that Willie's son has gotten a girl pregnant, he (MacMurfee) can use this as leverage to gain a senate seat in Louisiana, the same seat Willie has had his eye on for years.

Willie, of course, is not going to allow MacMurfee's plan to unfold, and he therefore relies on Jack to go to Burden's Landing and talk to Irwin. It is blackmail of a third party to defeat blackmail against himself, and Willie knows that it is entirely personal - that MacMurfee wants to use a detail from Willie's son's life to derail Willie's career. Thus Willie, who believes that all political battles are personal ones, has no problem sullying Irwin's reputation to keep MacMurfee from sullying his own. 

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Harrison and MacMurfee Character Timeline in All The King's Men

The timeline below shows where the character Harrison and MacMurfee appears in All The King's Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...paper, and he was there to cover the conversation; Duffy was one of the Governor Joe Harrison’s top men in that region—part of Harrison’s Democratic machine in the state. Alex introduces... (full context)
Chapter 2
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...the state’s Democratic Party because he is a rural candidate, and the “city” candidate, named Harrison, wants a “dummy” candidate to split the vote with his main rival, MacMurfee, who is... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...a small town and is joined by Sadie Burke, who has recently moved from the Harrison machine to Willie’s campaign. Burden tells Sadie he knows that she knows that Willie is... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Sadie has jumped the gun—she has admitted that the campaign is a ploy to help Harrison—and this is a rare miscalculation on Sadie’s part, since she is typically adept at reading... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...that he has been a stooge, that Duffy (on stage at Upton and working for Harrison) has arranged for him, Willie, to split the MacMurfee vote, and that he is now... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Willie spends the remainder of the campaign season stumping for MacMurfee, who wins the election, but Willie speaks so freely, and with such fire, that members... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...of this consolidation of power is the fact that Duffy and Sadie, once working for Harrison, now choose to work for Willie as Governor. Duffy eventually becomes a bigwig in the... (full context)
Chapter 3
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...to meet with a man named Lowdan, the politician who is the leader of the MacMurfee faction in the state house, the faction that is bringing the impeachment orders against Willie. (full context)
Chapter 8
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Sibyl Frey pregnant, and that her father, Mr. Frey, is furious at Tom and Willie. MacMurfee, who has maintained his political opposition to Willie over the course of his Governorship, gets... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...he has this Senate post wrapped up, and he’s not about to cede it to MacMurfee. The Boss also has heard that Tom might not be the only boy Sibyl has... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
But Willie, in the meantime, has figured out a strategy for dealing with MacMurfee and Frey—he realizes that Jack still has dirt on Irwin, dirt that they have till... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...that Jack has come to pay him a friendly visit—but quickly Jack begins talking about MacMurfee, and Irwin realizes that Jack has come to “play ball.” Irwin says that he has... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...realizes that he has to use his blackmail in order to get Irwin to pressure MacMurfee. He brings up Littlepaugh, and at first Irwin seems genuinely not to remember the man’s... (full context)
Chapter 9
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...that the Boss will now need to find a new angle in order to pressure MacMurfee into giving up his Senate bid. After thinking on it for about a week, Willie... (full context)